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Make Happy Review

You know a comedy stand-up show is something special when it makes you feel more complex emotions than just happiness.


Bo Burnham is one of my favourite comedians. I absolutely love his style and how it feels much more honest than a lot of others. He pushes the boat out too which I enjoy and his mix of jokes and music is very clever. My favourite performance of his used to be What but then I found this on Netflix and it blew me away.

It’s hard to review stand-up shows because there’s no real depth to them apart from what you’re being shown. There’s no crazy action sequences or dark drama it’s just a person, on a stage, in front of an audience, making jokes. But this felt like something more. Like you were supposed to take something from it and I know I certainly did.

It starts like any other comedy show with the jokes and the music and the audiences being very vocal too which Bo easily bounces off of. But then as it goes on we seem to learn more about him. About how this life is becoming too much and he can’t handle it and he wants a break. He tells his audience that if they can live without an audience themselves to do it. It seems life is much more simple when you’re not trying to please people or be something they believe you are when really all you want to be is yourself.

But what really struck me was at the end he leaves the stage and he is back in his old room and he plays a song about asking whether you’re happy or not. But it’s clear he’s asking himself as well, the lyrics end with ‘you’re everything you hated, are you happy? Hey look ma, I made it, are you happy?’ and it’s quite a painful watch. You expect comedy shows to be just that, comedy, but having this almost intimate moment really makes you question am I doing what’s right for this guy I enjoy watching? Am I making him happy because clearly he’s making money from this but is that really what it’s all about?

We watch these comedians and actors and people like we’re disconnected. They’re performing monkeys. This is what they want to do so they should do it and they should do it the way we say because we’re the audience and without us they’re nothing. But without us, would that be better? Would they then not have to put on this mask and portray a person we expect them to be.

Going off on a tangent but I believe people all want to be rich, to be famous, to not have to wake up every morning to an alarm and go to work and get stuck in traffic and deal with horrible customers and not have the time to do what they really love. But if we were in these celebrity’s shoes, being able to do what we want with our millions would we really be happy? Is that really the sort of life we aspire to? Where we have to be something we’re not, act a certain way, be a certain way when really all we want is a simple life with no worries.

Bo Burnham - Make Happy (2016)

This show is absolutely fantastic and I can’t get enough of it or recommend it enough. It’s incredibly thought provoking and I do hope that whatever Bo does next he is doing it because he wants to not because he believes it’s what others want him to do.

So to end it, a question for you: on a scale from one to zero, are you happy?

Until next time.

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